The Power of She is a movement inviting women and girls to join hands and lift each other up. When we empower each other, we position our sisterhood for greatness. Below, one mom shares what she’s learned about acceptance from her daughter, and how we can all work together to create a world where everyone is welcome.
Club 21 is an organization whose mission is to create a world that’s inclusive of individuals with Down syndrome. The community behind Club 21 strives to provide services and programs that enable people with Down syndrome to be fully included. But there’s another side to the challenge, and that’s getting people unfamiliar with Down syndrome to understand and accept. Audrey, one of Club 21’s founders, and mom to Estelle, who has Down syndrome, explains how we can all help shape a more inclusive world.
Q: Have there been instances when you’ve seen the kids at Club 21 push for belonging in a certain situation? What can we learn from that?
Yes, of course kids with Down syndrome want access to the same opportunities as everyone else. Club 21 is passionate about changing perceptions and providing opportunities so that can happen. We are constantly seeking new resources, tools and partnerships to create a society that is ready to open its doors and its heart to the value of inclusion.
Q: When someone unfamiliar with Down syndrome meets Estelle, how do you help them understand what makes her unique?
When people unfamiliar with Down syndrome met Estelle we make sure they meet Estelle…a smart, interesting, funny, charming, kind, and capable girl who just happens to have Down syndrome.
It’s important to remember we are all more alike than different, especially when it comes to feelings. If it would hurt your feelings, it will probably hurt Estelle’s feelings. If would make you feel happy, chances are, it’s going to make her feel happy, too.
The best approach is still the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
Q: How can we help others feel empowered to speak up for themselves. Has Estelle had the chance to do that?
At this stage in her life, Estelle has a healthy self image and lots of confidence. I have seen her advocate for herself in a variety of ways: asking for help when she needs it, asking well-intending others to let her try first before lending a hand, asking a teacher or a friend to say it one more time so she can better understand. Estelle is quick to stop a friend who is being too hard on themselves. She will remind them they are smart, funny, or my personal favorite, glorious! She lifts others up with her words and her actions.
Q: One final piece of advice for those teaching acceptance?
Abandon all assumptions.
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